...And All I Wanted Was a Campbell's
(A Screwed Up Morning: Part II)
by Brian Matthew Kessler
Hey... All you people... The Madman is back(1). Somebody can go tell Andy I got my fifteen minutes(2). In "A Screwed Up Morning" I gave you an explanation/ apology for what happened; here, I plan to give you the after-effects of the incident. The obvious and immediate effects were that the police arrived because somebody called them. I placed the toy rifle on a chair all as far from the door as possible and let them in, immediately announcing the gun was a fake. They confiscated my rifle. They took me to the station to make a statement which I made about a thousand times before they finally had me put it on paper. While writing it on paper they noticed my studded bracelet and pentagram bracer(3); because of an obscure and rarely enforced law about studded and spiked leather, they insisted on confiscating both, even though the studs on the bracelet were not sharp and the spikes on the bracer were positioned such that they could not really do much harm. I then asked them if it would do much good for me to file a complain about the theft and the harassment and told them I would like to file a complaint; either I was not heard, despite my somewhat loud voice, or I was completely ignored... at that time, no complaints were filed. I asked for a Xerox of my statement and they gave me one. When I got home, I immediately wrote up "A Screwed Up Morning" and submitted the article to the ARGO the first chance I got. I was expecting word to spread a lot quicker than it did and I figured that the word would get very distorted and thrown out of proportion, hence the joke at the beginning regarding holding hostages in my room.
While I may have been off a bit as to how distorted the story would get, it was obviously blown way out of proportion. Aside from two articles submitted by me (including this one), it made front page news in the ARGO, I am told that the last ARGO that came out (as of when I wrote this, February 22, 1992) had another letter to the editor with someone sticking up for me as well as a comic strip dedicated to the event, plus I know that a friend of mine has been writing an article about this... meaning that this stupid little incident is getting at least 6 separate entries in the paper. Furthermore, the event had me suspended from housing for over 2 weeks and I lost the Utopian setup that I had with my friend and roommate.
When I was finished with writing my article, we decided to decorate our apartment a bit. We glued a chair to our ceiling and in duct tape, drew an outline of a body on the floor underneath the seat. We then went to Berlin the next day to do some shopping. When we returned, we found our door was glued shut. Even though we did not glue the door, housing was not happy with us because it was our door. They repaired the door and discovered the chair on our ceiling, but made no comments that we were not allowed to do this at this time. They also took a comment we made that "we would have glued the table to the ceiling, but the glue wouldn't hold" seriously, even though it seemed quite obvious to us that it was a joke... how can you take someone seriously when they have a chair glued to their ceiling? We later found that the way we originally glued it was in fact unsafe. With all four feet glued, it had nowhere to go if it was bumped into and would therefore become separate from the ceiling, but if it was glued by only one foot, it would be able to swing and therefore was in fact safe. It took actual effort to remove it from the ceiling when housing insisted that we did so. There was no danger in any accidents occurring from it not being noticed since it is not very easy to miss a bright yellow chair hanging upside-down on the ceiling... the type of person who would miss that, is the same person would step in front of a moving armored car.
After this incident, my roommate and I found ourselves in somewhat of an un-holy war with our neighbor's across the court... from my point of view it was quite laughable. For some time prior to the incident, we had been posting an inverted pentagram drawn in ketchup on the door for both its aesthetic and shock values(4). The first time we did this, people wrote pro-Christian propaganda on it, which I was quick to turn into profound statements profaning their God. They answered to this by stealing the pentagram and the message board from our door. We replaced the pentagram and in posted a message in the Theban alphabet... not that anyone other than myself would have known what the message was... for trivial reference, it was, in fact, the Nine Satanic Statements from Anton LeVey's Satanic Bible. When these were torn down, we replaced them with another pentagram and the lyrics to Ozzy Osbourne's "Never Know Why". They completely ignored and proved the very point we were trying to make when they decided to spit on and later tear down the lyrics and the pentagram; this was prior to the incident. After the incident, we decided they could not steal the pentagrams from our windows, so we put a pentagram in each window. They responded by putting pro-Christian statements in their windows across the court. This was quite laughable to us because they used pagan symbolism in their statements. We did not really respond to their statements, but we later added a couple pro-Satanic statements to our windows. At one point, our court manager told us that he had received some complaints about our posts, but that he could not force us to take it down. We decided that we would take it down when we got our food back, knowing that we would not be getting our food back.
About a week after the incident, when we felt sure it was over with, a police officer fetched me from my Discrete Math II class and delivered me to Ron Rice's office where I was told that I was to be dismissed from housing as of 5:00 p.m. that day which he made 5:00 p.m. the next day. I felt it was relatively useless since I had nowhere to go and tried to plea with him that they should let me stay till after the hearing, but was informed that he could not do that. I was then told I should talk with Larry James which I did quite uselessly.
After I learned I was to be dismissed from housing, I spoke with a couple of my friends about it, who recommended that I go to the police office and make sure complaints were filed about the theft and harassment. I also learned from those friends about an over abundance of injustices imposed by the administration in regards to policies dealing with thefts and other crimes on campus. Later that evening, I went to the police office and learned that complaints were not filed, so I went over the story again and then they filed them.
I called my parents and moved out the next day. From there, I went home, two hours north, where it was impossible to commute to classes, so I have been missing classes for the past two weeks, including tests in a few of my courses. I will need to work out deals with my teachers as well as work my ass off to catch up.
I had my hearing last Tuesday. While I was satisfied with how the hearing went, it occurred to me that I could have done much better... luckily it really didn't matter since the hearing board decided to let me off with just a reprimand (in the real world, I received much more than a reprimand due to the time spent suspended from housing and thereby from school). Basically, the prosecution had no eye witnesses. The one witness they had was a police officer whose testimonies consisted of hear-say and misinterpretations of my own statement (something I failed to point out at the hearing). They had no witnesses saying that I threatened them, nor any reports of any threats made, with the exception of a misinterpretation of my own writing about the bluff with reference to a knife. Furthermore, he said that in his opinion the rifle itself was the threat. I should have, but I failed to point out, that his opinion really didn't count since the decision should be based on facts and I also failed to point out that "threat" is not defined as "rifle" nor vice-versa.
Earlier today, I received a phone call where I learned the results of the hearing, and as indicated above, I will be allowed to return to housing and officially I am only receiving a reprimand. While this has not been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life(5), I can at least say that I have learned some valuable lessons, which I state hear some that you realize that I have learned from my mistakes and also that you also may learn from my mistakes.
A) It is very important to properly delimit your problems. I had decided that I did not want to get the police involved, but I gave no real consideration to whether the enemy would do so.
B) It is important to think things out fully rather than play things by ear. While it was a very calculated risk that the enemy would not have a real gun, would not fire first, and would not be able to hit me since it was not an easy shot and if they had a state of mind to fire, they were probably too drunk to hit, I did not really consider the option of them calling the police. In a sense I did realize they would since it was obvious that they would not ignore the rifle nor could they fire in on me, but I figured as long as the rifle was a toy, on my property, behind closed shades, and I made no threats, they would have nothing on me so I was safe. It did not occur to me that the presence of the toy could be interpreted as a threat... as a source of fear, yes, but not as a threat(6).
C) Don't re-invent the wheel. There was already a system designed for handling such problems which would have been safe and easy to use (i.e. the police). Had I chosen this option, none of this would have happened.
D) Don't take matters into your own hands when you have other options. I have always prefered to take care of my own problems... admittedly I have never been particularly thrilled with society, therefore I really don't like relying on it or its systems, but for better or for worse, I have to live in society and therefore I should get used to dealing with it since the alternative only leads to more problems.
I am sure there are other important lessons to be learned in this mess... some of them I may have realized, but can't think of right now, some I may realize in the future, hopefully not the hard way. I can't really think of much else to say at the moment. At this point, I'd really like to try to put as much of this mess as possible behind me, knowing that for me at least some good as come out of it, in, at best, I have learned important lessons from my mistakes and hopefully others will, too, and at worst, if nothing else, people will have something to tell their grandchildren about.
I would like to make a final apology to anyone who may have been troubled by any of this (with the exception of the people who stole my food, threatened, or harassed me) and would like it to be known that I hold nothing against the police, administrators, or anyone else who said or did anything against me, either because they were doing their job or they had to cover their own ass or whatever.
1. Allusion to Ozzy Osbourne's intro on the live "Speak of the Devil" albumn.
2. Allusion to Andy Warhol's comment about fifteen minutes of fame.
3. The bracer could almost have been considered my trademark being that I was somewhat well known by it and it helped to give rise to two of my most common nick-names of "Satan" and "Iron Mike".
4. To our pleasure, I had overheard at least one person screaming in horror at the sight.
5. One of those did occur just a couple days prior to the incident with the rifle, but that is way too personal and someone else is involved, so therefore I won't be getting into that.
6. "Scare" and "Threaten" have two distinct meanings. The former means a sudden or unexpected action used to invoke fear. The latter means an action used to invoke change which promises if a demand is not met an unfavorable outcome will result. While these are not mutually exclusive definitions, it seems clear to me that my act only fits under the former and not the latter.